Press Release

The American Lawyer Associates Survey Shows Spike in Job Satisfaction

Transparency on Firm Finances, Partnership Track Are Most Improved

NEW YORK (August 30, 2012) –Job satisfaction among third-, fourth- and fifth-year associates at large law firms has jumped to the highest level since 2004, according to ALM’s The American Lawyer‘s annual Associates Survey, published in the September issue.

“They’ve endured a recession, layoffs, deferments, salary freezes, and even the loss of their spring bonuses,” wrote Senior Reporter Drew Combs of these lawyers who “launched their careers during the Great Recession (and survived).”

The special report is posted at It includes a series of interactive graphics that allow users to drill down into more detailed data, based on their specific areas of interest. These digital graphics contain data that compare law firms by size, associate satisfaction by location and five-year trending data for each law firm.

The survey is based on responses from 5,543 associates at the 129 firms that received national ranking. This year’s composite satisfaction score was 3.984 (on a scale of 1 to 5), compared to 3.729 in 2011. The lawyers ranked their employers in 12 areas, including degree of satisfaction with their work, training, partner relations and firm transparency. The biggest improvements this year were in transparency on firm finances and clarity on how to make partner.

Paul Hastings won the highest associate accolades, for the second consecutive year, among the Am Law 200, a list of the largest U.S. law firms, while 150-attorney Nutter McClennen & Fish beat out all qualifiers – firms ranked by at least 10 of their associates — for the fifth year in a row. Seven of last year’s qualifiers moved up into the top 25 this year: Alston & Bird; Jenner & Block; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; Perkins Coie; Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hamilton; O’Melveny & Myers; and Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young.

On a five-year average, the rankings of qualifying firms were topped by Nutter McClennen, Gibson Dunn, Cozen O’Connor, Ropes & Gray, and, tied for 5th place, Paul Hastings and Thompson Coburn.

Local rankings were also reported for firms with at least five respondents in a local office. In New York, for example, the highest associate satisfaction averages were posted by Paul Hastings, followed by Gibson Dunn and Allen & Overy; in Chicago, the winners were Morgan Lewis, Holland & Knight and Latham & Watkins; in the Bay Area, Paul Hastings, Latham & Watkins and Munger Tolles; and in Washington, Ropes & Gray, Cooley and Alston & Bird.

Complete survey results are available for purchase in Excel format from ALM Legal Intelligence at

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